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Depending upon the font used for the series of date letters, the letter i, j or l is usually omitted to avoid any possible confusion between them.

As a result the date letter cycle is usually 25 years as opposed to 26.

The laws governing silver hallmarking are very strict and if an item does not comply with a standard the item will not be hallmarked and will probably be destroyed.

The hallmarking of Irish silver began towards the middle of the 17th century.

The mark of origin is the Harp Crowned and it appears with a date letter and maker’s mark. Simply learn to recognise those Antique Silver Hallmarks.

If they offended again, a limb would be hacked off and, until the 1720’s, the death penalty was the usual sentence meted out to persistent offenders.

There was a simple reason for this seemingly Draconian behaviour in that the manufacture of silver and gold was allied to the minting of currency.

EJLD Excalibur Jewellery Ltd, Birmingham, 1970s onwards. Please note this mark, without the Danish factory mark, does mean the item was produced by the designer Georg Jensen in Denmark.

It means that it comes from the UK retailer Georg Jensen Limited. By tradition, it is said that Birmingham and Sheffield tossed for the marks derived from the sign of the Crown and Anchor tavern in London – where the promoters of the two new offices met.On the occasion of the Assay Office’s bicentenary in 1973, Birmingham struck a special anchor with a ‘C’ on either side of the stock, to indicate two hundred years.Between 17 the crown is often incorporated with the date letter struck on small objects.When the Birmingham Assay Office was established in 1773, largely due to the representations of the great Midlands industrialist, Matthew Boulton, the mark of an anchor was adopted as the town mark.Scottish hallmarks have been regulated by statute since 1457 but the earliest known example dates only from 1556 to 1557.